In 2012, a special fund was created to make Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Brisbane accessible to children whose families are experiencing hardship and crisis. Since then, the Mary MacKillop Catholic School Access Fund has continued to grow. In 2022, ten years since its inception, the Fund will support 74 primary and secondary school students; providing not just a holistic, faith-based education, but a community of care and friendship.

St Mary of the Cross MacKillop spent her life making Catholic education accessible to children facing poverty and adversity. The bursary program carries her name to continue that legacy of providing access to a faith-based education to the poor.

Karl Morris AO, Patron of the MacKillop Fund, is a passionate supporter and advocate for the pathways it opens for young people in need. “These bursaries are funded through charitable gifts from mums and dads, parishioners, and the faithful. All of us working together to ensure this Fund can work in the poorest parts of our Archdiocese, where it serves destitute families in crisis and gives children the chance to see their education through a Catholic lens.”

Children supported through the Fund come from every walk of life – some recovering from domestic and family abuse situations, some with terminally ill parents, others living with foster families while their parents are incarcerated or recovering from substance abuse addictions. What they share in common is a deep desire for a Catholic education – and that is what this Fund provides. These students don’t have the luxury of a ‘nuclear’ family that is often taken for granted, which makes it doubly important that they are surrounded by a caring community of teachers and friends when they are at school.

One such family is that of Lilly and Lachlan, two primary school children who fled an abusive home with their mother. The Fund provided tuition, books, uniforms and backpacks, but its true value lies in the stability and care these children have found in their Catholic school community.
“As a direct result of your help, Lilly and Lachlan have been in an emotionally supportive environment. This has helped them through an incredibly difficult situation that caused their trauma. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. God bless you, may Saint Vincent the patron saint of compassion, kindness, and generosity watch over you always”, wrote their grateful mother.

According to Mr. Morris, this fund “does so much more than fund the education of these children. It is about the transformation that comes with, in the midst of despair, knowing you are loved by God and supported by the community around you. It is a transformation that can one day make a huge difference to the child and the world that he or she contributes to. When we hear back from the parents and carers, we receive reports of young people flourishing, coming out of potentially life-threatening environments to reach their full potential and contribute meaningfully to our communities.”